From the range of digital marketplaces to the proliferation of social media platforms, consumers now have the ability to discover new brands and products faster and easier than ever before — and the amount of time they’re spending online is only increasing. As such, it’s critical for brands to not only have a presence across multiple channels, but also provide an integrated digital journey that enables customers to purchase instantly, whenever and wherever they want. For retail success — now and in the future — convenience is the new currency. In order to meet this always-on, effortless mindset, retailers must prioritize the following in 2021:
Embrace Total Commerce
Customer expectations have evolved past the need for basic omnichannel capabilities. Today’s shoppers want an effortless journey, starting with discovery. This means brands must not only have a multiplatform presence, but also meet consumers at micro-moments and offer a seamless brand experience and path to purchase. For example, social platforms are becoming more central to product discovery. And, according to a recent study conducted by Linnworks, 97 percent of consumers said that, when given the option, they like the convenience of shopping directly within social media.
Personalization is driving customer expectations, from discovery to delivery, and social commerce is key to not only meeting demand, but also creating it. Consumers are becoming more and more comfortable purchasing from brands they’re not familiar with. To capitalize on this — and avoid losing market share — brands can no longer wait for customers to search for them.
Offer a Frictionless Purchase Journey
The amount of time consumers spend considering whether to purchase a product is decreasing. Ease of purchase has been top-of-mind for e-commerce brands over the past couple of years, with one-click and subscription solutions, for example, topping the list. In 2020, the buy now, pay later option was added to that list. Not only are consumers taking advantage of these solutions for everyday purchases, but there’s also an increasing appetite for online purchasing of larger items that, historically, individuals haven’t felt comfortable buying sight unseen.
Younger generations that are accustomed to end-to-end digital experiences have emerged into new product-buying categories. From discovery to shipping and returns, it’s critical that there are no barriers that may cause shoppers to abandon their purchase and go elsewhere. Flexible payment options play an increasingly important role in creating a seamless experience, and failing to give customers choice across platforms will be make-or-break for consumers in 2021.
Personalize Customer Relationships
In addition to leveraging customer data to offer tailored online experiences, direct-to-consumer (D-to-C) models are shining through on the personalization front. Consumer expectations have vastly evolved in 2020, and while a personalized, integrated experience is critical, so is the sense of connection with brands they’re supporting. Between 2016 and 2019, D-to-C e-commerce sales were already growing at three times to six times the rate of overall e-commerce sales. Since the start of the pandemic, more than half of D-to-C brands have experienced surges in demand.
Digital shopping channels — like marketplace storefronts and social media platforms — enable increased visibility and the opportunity to invite customers to shop with them directly. And with third-party fulfillment businesses handling the heavy lifting, historical barriers that came with D-to-C business models no longer exist. D-to-C gives brands greater control of customer relationships — from exclusive offers to early access — and, if done right, ultimately increases brand loyalty and repeat purchases.
Once driven almost exclusively by price, today’s consumers are increasingly influenced by a mixture of convenience, ease of purchase and, yes, a sense of connection. The art of e-commerce is continually evolving, and total commerce, frictionless payments, and connected personalization will be at the heart of the next phase.
Callum Campbell is the CEO of Linnworks, an e-commerce platform that helps online retailers automate key processes, reduce costs and grow their business.
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Callum Campbell is the CEO of Linnworks, a leading SaaS commerce platform that works with brands like Ford, Casio, Belkin and Ten Thousand. As CEO, Callum is responsible for ensuring Linnworks empowers brands to grow their business online. Prior to becoming Linnworks CEO in 2017, Callum founded Autonative, a global automotive ecommerce software and services business, where he currently sits as a board member.
Callum earned a first-class honors degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Bath. Through Linnworks’ partnerships with leading global marketplaces including Amazon, eBay, Alibaba, Google and Facebook, Callum champions the vision of Total Commerce and the need for brands and retailers to be set-up to sell to their customers wherever they choose to purchase.